Clay Aiken, a singer best known for his second-place finish on the show "American Idol," is running for Congress.
Aiken, a Democrat, will challenge two-term Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C.. He will campaign on unfriendly terrain: Mitt Romney won the solidly Republican district by 16 points in 2012.
In a five-minute video announcing his decision, Aiken introduces himself in a living room where his mother, seeking refuge from an abusive relationship, brought him to stay as a child.
"So much of who I am was shaped in those early years, and it's part of why I decided to run for Congress," Aiken said.
Aiken focuses in his introduction on his work outside of music as a former special education teacher, touching only in passing on his television fame.
As Aiken said in the video, "For most Americans, there are no golden tickets — at least, not like the kind you see on TV."
Based on his introductory remarks, Aiken will focus his long-shot candidacy on attacking Ellmers for defense cuts — an issue of extreme importance in a congressional district adjacent to Fort Bragg. And, as Congress faces its lowest public approval ratings ever, Aiken will seek to run as a Washington outsider.
"I'm not a politician. I don't ever want to be one," Aiken said in the video. "But I do want to help bring back, at least to my corner of North Carolina, the idea that someone can go to Washington to represent all the people, whether they voted for you or not."